Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope it proves to be a peaceful and happy one.

I’m not going to post a list of goals and targets as, let’s face it, life has a habit of getting in the way. After a few horrible months tied up with a house-move that went very wrong my main aim is to just get back to normal and start writing regularly again! It’s started okay, with three competitions entered in the last three weeks – just need to keep that momentum going.

2015 wasn’t all bad. We had a fabulous holiday in Western Australia:

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My Boys – they do smile sometimes!

Two sons successfully moved on in their education – one from primary to secondary school and one from GCSEs to A Levels at College. Big changes for both and they’ve settled really well.

Writing wise there were some high points too – winning the NAWG inaugural 100-word story was one, and I also had my first stories accepted by Take A Break Fiction Feast which had me dancing around my office after a phonecall from Norah!

So, now I just need to get on with it. Happy New Year to all.

Schools Out

WP_20150723_17_41_52_ProA bittersweet time for us at the moment as our youngest son has just finished at primary school. He’s had a great grounding, is leaving with amazing SATs results and is more than ready to move on, but I know from experience that from now on I won’t have the same insight into his school life. Which is all good and he needs his independence but still… I’m really going to miss it. It’s even more poignant as I work at the school he went to and have spent much of today taking his name off of various lists and registers – with a little sob at each one.

Sadness aside, it’s summer holidays – yay! I love every minute of them – even the non-stop Devon rain, the raised voices which suggest that number one son is about to disembowel number three son and the constant sound of number two son making yet another raid on the fridge.

I’ve got a stack of books to read, a pile of writing to do and I can’t wait to get stuck in. I’ve had some good luck recently with selling short stories (three!) to magazines. It’s given me a real boost and my head is full of ideas.

The summer holiday – bring it on.

BONE JACK by SARA CROWE

This was the first of the longlisted books for the 2015 Branford Boase Award 2015 I chose to read. The selection of this one was based on the cover and the blurb and that served me well as I loved it.

Now obviously I’m not the target audience – it’s been many years since I could be called a young adult – but I do enjoy YA fiction if it’s in the right genre. This had it all for me, great characters, a compelling plot and a large dose of myth and legend. The setting of moor and mountain is wonderful and I loved the use of the Stag Chase, now an annual race for local boys but with echoes of an ancient and much more bloody tradition.

Next ones on the list are Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss or Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall. Back soon!

EXETER WRITERS SHORT STORY COMPETITION 2015

Exeter Writers Short Story Competition
1st prize – £500
2nd prize – £250
3rd prize – £100
plus an additional £100 prize for a writer living in Devon
Deadline 28 February 2015

Only three weeks left to get your entries in – it’s a great competition with generous prizes. Full details on how to enter can be found here.

I was lucky enough to win this competition last year and off the back of that was invited to join Exeter Writers. I’m finding the regular meetings so useful and informative, with a real range of both established and aspiring writers – novelists, short story writers, screenwriters and poets amongst them.

If you would like to read my story you can find it here – but please don’t feel obliged, I won’t be offended! Although actually, reading past winners is one of the most important things you can do when entering a competition as it gives you a feel for the type of story that might do well. There are some great names among the previous winners and some fantastic stories.

Best of luck if you do enter.

BRANFORD BOASE AWARD 2015

The 18-strong longlist for the Branford Boase Award 2015 was announced today.

The award was launched fifteen years ago and is given annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. Seven of the previous winners and shortlistees  have gone on to win the Carnegie Medal (including Patrick Ness whose Chaos Walking Trilogy is a favourite of mine) so it’s a great place to pick out future best-sellers and critically acclaimed authors. For more details and the longlist go here.

I’ve set myself the challenge of reading and reviewing all 18 books. Partly because I’m in between books but mostly because this is where I dream of being one day – on a longlist like this.

I’m starting with Bone Jack by Sarah Crowe, just because the title and blurb really appealed. I’ll report back soon.

Blue Monday

Today is Blue Monday – apparently the most depressing day of the year. After a 40 minute round trip to the vets with a car-sick cat, followed by an eye-watering bill from said vet I’m inclined to agree.

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(Thompson. He didn’t look quite like this when we got home. In fact a hose was required.)

New Blog and New Goals

It’s that lovely time of year, when all the possibilities for the months ahead are swirling around. I’ve not made resolutions as in my experience they rarely last more than a few days (plus I’ve still got an awful lot of chocolate to get through!) but I am setting some goals for the coming year. It’s also a great chance to take stock and reflect on what has happened over the last year.

In writing terms, 2014 was my best yet, with some great competition successes and more work sent out than ever before, BUT there is still a lot to improve on. So to that end, these are my goals for 2015:

  • Submit more! My aim is for a minimum of 1 piece per week – whether that is a short story, filler or simply a letter to a magazine.
  • Finish the first draft of a novel.
  • Persevere with blogging. I tried once before but was embarrassingly bad at keeping it updated so here is my shiny new blog just waiting to grow.
  • Embrace the slightly scary world  (to me anyway) of social media. I’ve already made a start with facebook and next on my list is twitter. Apologies in advance for all the mistakes I will make and if I come across like a stalker – please feel free to ignore my friend requests!

What all the above really amounts to, is to take myself seriously as a writer. I’ve realised that I love it and I can’t imagine myself going back to a life where I didn’t write. I’ve also learned that with a bit of hard work and probably a bigger amount of luck I can actually produce something worthy of publication/competition success. And to remind myself of that and also to blow my own trumpet (which all writers have to do at some point!) here are some successes from 2014.

  • Leicester Writers Club Writing for Children Competition – Third Place with Jack Jenkins and the Portal to the Past
  • Writer’s Forum Monthly Short Story Competition – WINNER with Tangled Threads (April)
  • Exeter Writers Short Story Competition 2014 – WINNER with Dancing the Animals. This also led on to me joining Exeter Writers which has been a huge privilege.
  • Hysteria 2014 – WINNER in the Short Story category with Drowning in Lemon Juice (Anthology available here)
  • Runner-up in a Writing Magazine Short Story Competition – details should be out later this year.

Onwards and Upwards! Here’s to a great 2015.